The RPT’s statement relies on an article in today’s Midland Reporter Telegram that Smith recruited Midland City Councilman Bill Dingus to run against Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick. The article was erroneous. The Reporter-Telegram will run a retraction. The retraction and all communications between Smith and the newspaper can be found on Smith’s blog, State of Mine.
Here is the full RPT statement:
Texas GOP Chair Tina Benkiser today called on Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith to resign his position after it was reported in today’s Midland Reporter Telegram that Smith recruited Midland City Councilman Bill Dingus to run against Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick.
“Evan Smith needs to make a choice he can’t be both a political consultant and a magazine editor,” said Benkiser. “Those who report the news are not supposed to make it. If Mr. Smith’s work hasn’t already made his antagonism toward Speaker Craddick clear enough, this revelation leaves no question. The conflict of interest is obvious. He needs to step down.” In today’s Midland Reporter-Telegram, political reporter Bob Campbell writes, “Dingus said he had just been encouraged to oppose Craddick by Texas Monthly Editor Evan Smith, for whom Dingus’ sister Anne worked as a writer, and he expects substantial financing from outside District 82.”
“It now appears that Smith’s unnamed source is actually Dingus himself,” said Benkiser. “When you help orchestrate a candidacy, what better unnamed source than the candidate you recruit?” Noting the Texas Monthly routinely raises the ire of Republicans, and specifically conservatives, Benkiser said, “You can’t fairly cover both sides if you’ve already taken a side. Texas Monthly routinely lambastes conservatives while claiming to be non-partisan. Now the thin veneer of non-partisanship and impartiality has been shattered. For the magazine’s credibility, Mr. Smith needs to resign.” Native New Yorker Evan Smith took over as editor of Texas Monthly magazine in 2000. “West Texas voters are smart, tough and conservative. They know best who will lead effectively for their district. West Texas voters will see through this liberal fantasy and stick with proven, conservative leadership,” Benkiser concluded.
The retraction completely exonerates Smith from Benkiser’s charge of conflict of interest. There is no defense, however, to the accusation that he is a “native New Yorker.” These Republicans play tough.